Global interest in Asian films picking up, says HBO chief

Movie channel sees growing market appeal of products with regional content as it launches service giving users access on mobile devices

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 4:06am

There is a growing interest among international audiences in Asian films including those made in Hong Kong, says Jonathan Spink, the chief executive of movie channel HBO Asia.

While it may take some time before Asian films become box-office hits, "there is an undoubted growing interest in this content", Spink said.

HBO Asia is currently producing its first television series in Asia. It is set in Singapore in the 1960s.

"It is a detective series which features a lot of Asian stars," Spink said.

"I think you will see an increasing amount of [Asian-made content]," he said, adding that it would appeal to many people around the world, and not just audiences in Asia.

I think you will see an increasing amount of [Asian-made content]," he said, adding that it would appeal to many people around the world

Spink, who has been based in Singapore for the past nine years, was speaking at the recent Asian launch of HBO Go in Hong Kong.

The new broadband streaming service allows pay-television subscribers access to more than 1,000 hours of HBO original content including current and past series such as Sex and the City and Rome, plus HBO films, on multiple devices including computers, tablets and smartphones at any time.

Spink said the service was offered to improve convenience for subscribers. "It is an opportunity for customers who are paying to watch HBO anyway to watch the product when they want to watch it."

HBO Go started in the United States, and Hong Kong is the first Asian market to get the service. "The plan is that it will be roll out to other Asian markets as well," said Spink.

With the internet changing the way people access content, an increasing number of users accessed content on their mobile devices, he said.

Companies such as HBO faced the challenge of piracy, which makes so much content available for free illegally, that it was damaging to business, he said.

This was one reason HBO began to make its content available to subscribers.

"At least we can then offer a good high-quality service to our paying subscribers," he said.

HBO had no plans to produce a 3D channel in the near future, according to Spink.

"Personally, I find it difficult to watch," he said. "I don't think it will catch on until people don't need to wear glasses."

HBO Asia offers five channels including a Chinese film channel.